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GIIDAE: EU Scholarship

Cato Bersee, MSc Agriculture and Development (2020)


What did you do before coming to Reading?

Before joining the University of Reading, I was an Urban Farmer for a collective called CityPlot, a Children’s Nature Educator, and I also worked with autistic children.

What are your career aspirations?

I am a strong believer in the importance of nature and agricultural education for children across the world so that we can move towards the development of a more sustainable future. I wish to combine my work as a nature educator, food grower and academic. In addition, I would like to work with a Non-Governmental Organization that focuses on food security and agricultural development, targeting small scale farmers and women in rural areas. Following the completion of the programme, my future role will hopefully become clearer.

What interested you in your chosen area of study?

We have, in many ways, distanced ourselves from nature to the extent that some feel fully disconnected, and see nature as solely being of service to us. I believe contemporary agricultural practices that take place around the globe are a clear manifestation of this. Although, I also see the practice of growing food as a way to restore this connection which is an essential part of creating a sustainable system for all to use.

Why did you choose Reading?

Reading is considered to have one of the top-ranking agricultural departments, not just locally, but also internationally. In addition, I want to improve my English language skills and have a unique experience of studying and living abroad.

How do you think this qualification will help you in the future?

My qualification will hopefully provide me with the knowledge I need to work in the field of sustainable agricultural development.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Reading?

It has been an awkward period for all because of the pandemic and I am having an interesting time trying to settle down in a new country while under restrictions. Despite some struggles in the initial weeks of being in the UK, I have come to embrace this strange time and delve deeper into my Master’s programme and focus on my own personal hobbies. I have enjoyed this immensely and thank Reading for their continued support throughout.

Would you recommend the programme to other students, if so why?

I would absolutely recommend the Master’s programme to students who are interested in the role of agriculture in development. This is because the educational standards are high and there is a real ease to talk and connect with academics and course mates alike.

How has the Scholarship helped you?

My GIIDAE scholarship has helped by giving me peace of mind. I can now dedicate my full attention and time to my studies, setting aside my initial financial worries of having to work during my programme to pay for my tuition fee and living expenses.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

As a result of COVID, everyone has been impacted differently. However, if you have been considering applying for a Master’s programme but are hesitant to do so because of the "big leap", I suggest considering joining a one-year programme to give you some security and structure. It truly has been a blessing for me personally.